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Happy Second Anniversary

Had a busy-busy last week, and didn’t get the time to log on but when I did, I was gently reminded by WordPress that I had passed my second anniversary of  of being on this blog. So this is a good time as any to take stock.

It has been an eventful year. I’d decided last year that I would do more posts about India, it’s people, it’s festivals and culture. I can’t say I’ve done a great job but I’ve tried, honestly. India is a large country, with a huge spectrum of cultures belonging to the different regions. The people are different and yet the same. The quest shall continue. I’ll have to shed some inhibitions though, because whenever I try to take pictures in a crowd or in public, I suddenly become the centre of attention. The moment the people see a woman (me)with a big camera (read DSLR) moving among them, taking pictures, they think I’m some press reporter from the local newspaper. I can almost see them going nudge-nudge, whispering, “she’s from the news paper, she’s from the news paper”. Then they try to get my attention or get me to take their pictures, the older ones will push their kids in front and beg me to take their photos. It becomes funny and embarrassing at times.

Also, somewhere during the last few months, I crossed another milestone; that of completing my 100th post. Now that may not be a big deal for most of the bloggers here but for me it was. I’d started this blog with a lot of apprehensions, not knowing how far I’ll be able to go, what I’ll write about and what I’ll share and learn. But this has been a beautiful journey so far. I’ve learnt so much about people and places, have stood corrected on so many of my preconceived notions about certain people and cultures and I’ve learnt to view the world around me with a more open mind and without being too judgemental.

And now the awards-

During the course of this year some of my fellow bloggers were really kind to bestow a few awards on me. I’d like to mention them and their blogs with a big thank you..

First it was Eva from Healthy glow Nutrition who nominated me for ‘A very Inspiring Blogger’ award.

Then again she was kind enough to nominate me for yet another award- ‘the Leibster award’.

Next was the ‘Beautiful Blogger award’  that was bestowed upon me by TKSoni from his blog ‘and life smiles

And most recently, Deb from ‘unexpectedincommonhours, nominated me for the ‘Leibster Award’

I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.

‘But why haven’t I accepted the awards?’ you may ask. Wellll! The problem lies with me. The first time I got an award, I was relatively new to blogging. I tried to accept the award, and get the picture of the award on my page but somehow managed to bungle it all up, and made a complete mess of the whole situation. After that experience I’ve developed a sort of a phobia for trying to accept the awards. Add to it another fear, of that of sharing a few things about myself, as one of the requirements for accepting most of the awards.

Now if I were a celebrity anything and everything about me would make an interesting read. My readers would be dying to know more. Maybe then I could get away with disclosures like-

I love to sleep in my pyjamas.

I got a tattoo of my ex somewhere and I’m desperately trying to find it.

I eat only grass in this extremely amazing diet that I’m following.

I love Calvin-Klein… Calvin and Hobbs…  and so on.

But sadly that’s not the case and I, for the life of me, cannot think of anything interesting enough about me that will increase the traffic to my page. So I would like to say a big thank you once again and hope that some day I’ll find the courage to accept the awards.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who’ve liked my posts and followed my blog. I haven’t been able to acknowledge everyone and for that I’m sorry. I shall try to rectify this slowly but surely.

Now for the coming year, I have not made any specific plans as I’ve gotten a bit busy with my job as a teacher and that takes up a lot of my time and energy, but one thing’s for sure.. I’ll still be posting, as regularly as possible. Maybe I’ll get to share some teaching anecdotes with everyone, as I’ve already realised that teaching adolescent students is one big lesson in itself.   I would also like to learn the art of taking better pictures than just ‘aim and shoot’ varieties, so cross my fingers for that.

Signing out with that. Hope to continue receiving love, appreciation and feed-backs from my readers.

Childhood: A World Of Wonder And Magic

Charles from Mostly Bright Ideas, recently did this post here. He brought so many memories of my childhood back that instead of writing a comment on his post I decided to do an entire post here.

As everyone from my generation would say, almost gloatingly, we spent more time outdoors, playing. The television reached here late (in the 80’s) so we had very little to distract us from our playing.

My most vivid memories are of my summer vacations that I spent at my grandparents’ place where all of us cousins would be together for whole two months of free vacation time on our hands. In my age group, we girls were out-numbered by the boys at 2:4, which got further skewed when their friends joined in, and we(girls)  had no option but to join them in their boys’ games. So we spent our vacations, playing marbles, gilli-danda, sitoliya, hide’n seek, flying kites and going for long bicycle rides.

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gillidanda

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sitolia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gilli-danda

Apart from this there were many other activities that we indulged in as that particular year’s ‘flavor of the year’. We spent one vacation mastering our cycling talents, with a lot of funny mishaps thrown in, in good measure. The next was spent in gardening when we surprised ourselves by actually growing some vegetables. It was a proud moment for us.

Another one we spent trying to learn the fine art of cricket bowling. Our oldest cousin brother was struck with the cricket virus and he insisted on taking up the role of our coach. He bought a book on bowling, drew a cricket pitch on the terrace and we spent the entire vacation taking lessons on how to grip the ball for off-spin, leg-spin, googly and bouncer varieties of bowling. Had we persisted the Indian cricket team would have greatly benefited from our skills.

And the year we got toy bows and arrows and maces for gifts, we spent enacting stage plays, mostly the Ramayana or excerpts from the Mahabharata. The elders of the house would suddenly find some of their clothes(mostly sarees) missing as they were pilfered away to dress ourselves up and also to do up a makeshift stage, as a result we would be unceremoniously shooed out of the house.

I was a regular tomboy, till I went to an all girls boarding school, where in the company of other girls, I developed a few girl-like traits.  My dad and mom never stopped me from doing a particular thing just because I was a girl. I was the first girl in my group of friends to learn how to ride a bike. I still remember very clearly, every Sunday morning, my dad would hoist me up the seat of the bike that we borrowed from our neighbours. We didn’t have those cute kid bikes available back then so we used a full sized bike, as a result, my feet couldn’t reach the ground. My dad would then spend the next half hour running behind me (with short breaks) till the day I finally learnt to ride it confidently. Getting off the bike safely was a totally another thing though, that took much longer to learn.

And now when I think about it, we, as kids, played so many games. There was Hop-scotch, Statue, Four-corners, Eggs in the Basket, Kho-kho, Rope skipping, One legged catch, Dodge ball, Chain, Cut-the-cake, Help… . whew!! apart from sports like Badminton or Table-tennis. And I haven’t yet listed the indoor games we played.

Sometimes I wonder if today’s generation is really missing out on some real fun? They do play outdoors, that is, they go for the practices of  various sports and their after school hours are packed into a tight schedule of  one class after another. Does that leave room for some imaginative play? Of  creating new games out of mundane things around them. A bed-sheet, for us, would turn into a tent and we would be soldiers at the front, or a group on a picnic, or hunters in the jungle. Cardboard boxes would send our imaginations in a tizzy. There was nothing we couldn’t play with.

And I’m sure today’s kids would find our games outdated, or even boring. They would be more interested in getting that next high score on their gaming consoles. As I look around me, a kid of average 2 years can manage the basics of a tablet and play games on them. And sometimes I think that too is important because the world is getting more and more digitized even as we speak so they need to be skilled in the use of modern technology.

So I don’t know if I should be claiming, gloatingly, that we had more fun or their’s is also the good way to have a great time. Maybe all the generations have had it good in some way or the other. What do you say???

Loving Always….

I would like to share a poem written by my friend- Priya Narang. She is an ophthalmologist by profession, and I always saw her as someone very passionate about her work. I loved these few lines that she shared with us, and frankly, took me by surprise.

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A Flower-filled Day!!

This month my city- Ahmedabad- organized it’s first Flower show. The venue chosen for the show was a section of the ‘Sabarmati river-front’.  Many seasonal and exotic flowers, plants, saplings, vegetable plants, ayurvedic plants, bonsai and cactus were on display.Not just local varieties but also flowers from 12 countries were flown into Ahmedabad. Local farmers and Plant Nurseries were also encouraged to set up shop at the venue.

So last Saturday morning, armed with our cameras, we(hubby,daughter and me) landed at the show. We planned it to be a multi-pronged visit; to enjoy the beauty of the flowers, increase our knowledge of some window gardening(since we live in an apartment, that’s all the gardening we can afford to do), and buy some plants for the home.

The moment we stepped at the venue, we knew that we were going to have fun
DSC_0320cdthe’flower’ part of the set could not be taken as there was too much rush in front of it for pictures!!

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maa camera

DSCN0450my daughter engrossed in taking pictures!!!

DSCN0459The river

DSCN0478Having fun speed-boating

We returned hot and tired, but happy as we came back with some plants for the home.

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Home Green Home!!!

A Morning With The Birds

There are many things, I believe, that we did not do, when we were kids. And that wasn’t because we had any problem, or there was a lack of resources. But simply because we were unaware that such things could be done. I have been introduced to many such activities, by my daughter, much later in life. One such activity is- Bird Watching.

A few years ago, she attended a four day camp for bird watching. She came back bursting with enthusiasm and with a lot of information related to birds. She had been taught to identify birds by their plumage, their calls or any other characteristic feature. As she rattled off her newly acquired knowledge, some of her enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I started looking out for birds and along with my daughter, I have also learnt to identify a few species.  In fact, now whenever we go to any place for vacations, we are on the lookout for the avian species found in the region. We ask the local people their names and then try and identify them from a little bird book that we carry with us on all such outings. I can assure you, we look really funny, craning our necks up as we walk down the road, trying to spot that elusive bird and at the same time to avoid bumping into anyone.

And we are lucky that we have not one but two bird sanctuaries within a distance of 70kms from the city. These are two really big lakes and during winters the migratory birds arrive here from far off lands to nest. The one nearer to the city is the Thol Bird Sanctuary and the other one is the Nal-Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. We had been visiting Thol for the last couple of years so this year decided to check out Nal-Sarovar.  So last Sunday armed with our cameras, caps, sunglasses, some refreshments  we took off early and I mean, really early, in the morning to watch the birds.

It took us nearly an hour to reach there, even with no traffic. The dawn was breaking when we reached and the air was filled with the cries of the birds.DSC_0578

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DSC_0589The Sunrise

DSCN0020sunrise on the lake

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DSCN0031sea-gulls in the morning sun

DSCN0099kids selling bird-feed for the gulls

DSC_0757Purple Moorhen

DSC_0765A Cormorant

DSC_0776still searching the name so any info, let us know

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DSC_0808Large Egret

DSC_0827common cranes

DSC_0814common cranes in flight

DSC_0840Saurus Cranes- the world’s tallest flying birds- in flight

DSC_0897bay-backed shrike

We also spotted Grey Heron, Ibis,Brahminy Shelducks, Comb Ducks, Stilts, Lapwings, Common Iora, Minivets,etc. but couldn’t capture them on camera.

The morning sunrise series and the birds’ pictures have all been taken by my daughter. Seeing her enthusiasm for bird-watching we’d brought a zoom lens for her DSLR camera last year and she has made good use of it. The rest, that is, the sunrise on the lake, the gulls, the little boys, were taken by me by my small automatic Nikkon camera.

Well, pictures taken or not, its beautiful to watch these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. When they taken flight in flocks, you can only marvel at their beauty. It was a morning well spent.

 

A morning’s Tale-2

Yipee!! Yahoooo! Yabadabadooo!

That seems a bit over the top but that’s exactly how I’m feeling. As I wrote in the first part of this post- A morning’s Tale– I was looking for a suitable place for my morning jogs. I think God also visits WordPress because it seems as if my prayers have been answered. I have found the perfect place for jogging. In fact, it was there, right before my eyes but I don’t know how it escaped my notice. Only when my friend reminded me about it that the bulb in my brain lit up.

The place is the Sabarmati Riverfront. Currently a major project of the Government of Gujarat. The banks of Sabarmati river are being developed into a tourist attraction place. The walkways are ready, and hopefully, soon there will be parks, water-sports, hotels, floating restaurants etc. at different points of the riverfront. The walkway area is very close to where we live and we can easily walk down to it. The walk becomes the warm up for the jog to follow. Some pictures here-

        the walkway

 

     The Sabarmati River

 

 

Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram with steps on the right side leading to the river

 

    waterworks tower

 

 

  The road bridge in the foreground and the rail bridge with a train passing on it in the background

 

the river

Jogging here in the mornings refreshes me thoroughly. In fact, I no longer have to bother about my problem. Who needs artificial music when you can hear the sounds of nature in the calls of the birds. That’s music enough for me.

Now I jump out of the bed in the mornings, and don’t make excuses to avoid my jogs but really look forward to them. Hope I will be able to see some good results soon. Cross my fingers.

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

Hi everyone. I’d been planning to do another post but I realized that I needed to do something else that was long overdue. And that is – A Big Thank You’ to all who’ve visited my blog.

When I began blogging I was a clumsy user of technology. (I still consider myself somewhat challenged in that department.) And so some of the likes and comments on my earlier posts went unacknowledged. I tried to visit the sites of the people to express my gratitude but would land up elsewhere and would finally give up in frustration. I take this opportunity to apologize and to thank them all.

I also want to thank all who are following my blog. It really feels good to be read and appreciated and I try to reciprocate the gesture as much as I can. Sometimes I may slip up or may be delayed due to lack of time but I want you all to know that I’m ever so thankful to you all for your support.

And lastly I also want to thank everyone who read my posts, like them and put in their comments. I appreciate the time you take out from your busy schedules to go through my posts and share your views.

All I can ask for now, from all you beautiful bloggers out there, is your support and love. Once again a BIG thank you.

Cheerios!!!!

Doing away with Clutter

Renovations of the dining and living area of our modest 3 bedroom apartment have finally begun. Have been living with the same look and furniture for the past 17 years except for some minor changes or a new paint job now and then, so we decided that it was time we went for a complete makeover.

The process began with the initial planning of the changes that would be made and things that would remain as it is. This was one major hurdle. As is the case with all married couples and more so for those who’ve been enduring each other for more than two decades, we couldn’t agree on most of the things initially. I wanted a completely new look whereas he just wanted to make some minor alterations. But my motto for a happy married life is-

“Always agree to whatever your Husband says-so he’s happy;

then go ahead and do what you wanted to- so you’re happy too”

So finally I convinced him to see most things my way and agreed to some of his suggestions too. A truce was called and we went ahead.

We selected the various agencies for the work, that is, the mason,carpenter,electrician, painter, etc. and the work began.It was then that, much to my amazement, I realized the amount of stuff there was in all places possible. ‘Amazement’ because I am a ‘clutter hater’ person. I systematically throw away the useless stuff from time to time. And yet I see that clutter has a habit of finding it way back, quietly, into my home and occupying all available spaces. It is also helped, of course, by my husband and daughter who are ‘ clutter lovers’. They, unlike me, hate to throw anything away.

The clutter in my home can be segregated into different categories-

1. Emotional clutter- this includes all things with high emotional quotient. So all the drawings, paintings, made by my daughter ever since  she could hold the crayons, my husband’s first stethoscope, briefcase, gifts from close friends(even those that have fallen apart), a shell from the beach where we went honeymooning, and other such things are lovingly stored away. Even now my wish to change the sofas was met with a lot of opposition by my daughter saying” I grew up on these” until I pointed out that that’s precisely the reason they have to be changed. Believe me, I’ve been declared an unemotional person many a times.

2.Mementos- these include the things belonging to our family or members of the family. I wouldn’t mind if these were family heirlooms, like pieces of jewelry, paintings by the masters, and the likes, but that is usually not the case. But the things that are, I don’t think I can even mention them here.

3.To be used some day- this category bugs me the most. I’ve got piles of unused pens, little jars and bottles, pieces of wood-boards, old spectacle frames, you name it. Though to be honest and at the risk of being exposed, I’ll confess that I do away with them on the sly leaving enough so as not to arouse suspicion.

4.Things that can neither be used nor given away- I have closet full of things that have been either given or gifted to me on various occasions. I have no use for them but cannot give them away either. Some are beautiful and usable but I have no space to display them, some do not fit, some that I can use only one at a time and the rest have to wait for their turn.

5. Simply “Do Not Throw That” category- this can include the most mundane things that I’ve been strictly told to leave well alone, no arguments entertained.

I’m not too sure if I’ve missed any category. But if you have any suggestions please enlighten me.

Every year ‘Diwali Cleaning’ (our annual cleaning similar to spring cleaning) yields a good harvest of all things that I can give away.

I then call the people from an institute here named ‘Blind People’s Association’ who accept, besides donations, things you don’t need. They use whatever they can, sell the rest and use the money for the disabled.

Kills two birds for me- one, I get rid of things I don’t need; and two- feel good about having my things put to good use.

 

A mornings’ Tale

     Listen to the exhortation of the Dawn!

Look to this day, for it is Life, the very Life of Life.

In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of your Existence.

The Bliss of Growth, the Glory of Action, the Splendor of Beauty.

For yesterday is but a Dream, and tomorrow is only a Vision;

but Today well lived

makes yesterday a Dream of Happiness and every tomorrow a Vision of Hope.

Look well therefore to this Day!

Such is the Salutation of the Dawn.

                                                                                           Kalidasa

Beautiful words, aren’t they? Make you wanna go all philosophical and write about all things beautiful and positive about the mornings- how its a  new beginning, brings new hope and blah and blah and blah. That’s the general direction my thoughts were taking when I read the quote and decided to do a post about it. But midway, my thoughts were hijacked by my not so philosophical part of the brain, towards a totally new direction and what that resulted in was this-

I love mornings. In fact, I’m basically a morning person- not the 4:30am  morning person but a 6:00am morning person. Mornings mean, sending my daughter off to school(something that will soon end), drinking my lime and honey in hot water while skimming through the newspaper, mentally noting the news I have to later read in detail and then its time for a round of workouts, beginning with a jog.

When I first began jogging, I would go up to the terrace of my building for the run. I loved to see the sun rise, the birds making their way across the skies in large flocks, to hear the tolling of bells from a nearby temple and later the sound of a band playing march-past tunes(my apartment building is near police headquarters and parade ground). It was a great way to start the day. But after about a year a pair of eagles decided to nest in a tree near the building and they took offence to my jogging in what I suppose they believed was their territory and I was unceremoniously shooed out by a series of aerial attacks displaying their beaks and talons.

I then tried jogging on the treadmill at the neighborhood gym. It was great as far as burning calories was concerned, but I missed the outdoors.

A few months later I discovered that a monument near my home had opened its gates and the walkways of its gardens for morning walkers. Delighted I made a beeline for the place only to discover that I was the only female jogger surrounded by a whole lot of male starers and of course other female walkers too. I couldn’t and still can’t understand what is so amazing or intriguing about seeing a female(who is also appropriately clad in full-length tracks and tees) jog. 

People at times stopped midway between what they were doing- which included, apart from walking, doing push-ups or squats, even an Anulom-Vilom or Kapalbhati Pranayam- just to stare as if I had just landed from Mars- or Venus if you please.But being the stubborn bull-head that i am ,specially in such situations, I continued my daily jogs,pointedly ignoring all the stares.

My luck didn’t last long here either and after a few months the management decided to close its doors to the public for some renovations. I personally believe that they were miffed that I was getting more attention than the monument, hence the action.

So once again I was rendered jogging-trackless. I gave a fleeting thought to, going to the parade ground and using a quiet corner for my runs but the images of shorts and ganji clad policemen doing their daily drills, sensibly, made me give up THAT idea.

Finally I had to resign myself to the lobby of my floor which is a reasonably okay place for me to jog. Its large enough and ogle-free. I get my dose of fresh air and can see the sun rise without having to protect myself from aerial attacks. Guess it will have to do till I find a better place that fits in with all my preconditions. Ciao…

note-the pictures here all are my daughter’s work.

PROBLEM 3 –A Taxing Problem

It’s been a long time now but I’ve figured out another problem that really bothers me-even more than the first two.  The first one now doesn’t seem to be much of the trouble and the second one still persists-so much so that now I’ve started jogging without any music at all.

Now, coming to my problem no. 3. Come year end (I mean, the financial year in March) and I start getting the heebie-jeebies. It’s that time of the year when we have to put down on paper the past year’s incomes, expenses, investments and other mumbo jumbos of all things financial so that the taxmen can collect their dues.

                                                                         what I look like as the year end approaches

Hubby dear believes and insists that I’m sufficiently educated and perfectly capable to tackle, at least, my own finances, considering they don’t amount to much. After all I am no J.K.Rowling or a movie star or a politician. So all I have to do is sit with the files of the year gone, prepare a comprehensive chart of all the inflows and outflows of cash, add in the necessary details and I’m done. I then just have to pass on all these details to a dear, dear friend who then does all the difficult work of assessing my records, making corrections if necessary, calculating what I owe to the taxmen and finally filing my tax returns. So basically all I have to do is the easy part.

                                                                        what I look like when I have to start

But even that seems no less than climbing the Everest to me. You see, the moment I lay my eyes on the files and the figures within, I am seized by a bout of dyslexia. The numbers jump out from the pages and begin floating before my eyes and even the basic mathematics of addition and subtraction suddenly acquire the proportions of a calculus problem. My brain goes into a spin and then starts working overtime thinking up new excuses to keep putting off the said work. It’s only when, I’m gently and persistently sent reminders from “the friend” ,that guilt takes over and I finally get down to complete the work.

                                                 what I look like when I see the numbers and the figures

Over the last few years I’ve realized that the reason for this problem lies not with the numbers or figures as I make myself believe, but with ME. Because they bore me and also scare me to a degree,I’ve unknowingly created a block which prevents me to actively face this problem(I think it’s the same with most of our problems in life). Give me a Chemistry or a Biology problem to tackle or for that matter even a History mystery to solve and I’m game. I can spend hours on the net or in the library and enjoy the challenge. But Accounts give me the shudders. Every year on ‘the Resolutions Day’(the New Year), when others are resolving to shed those oodles of fat or finishing that long forgotten project or taking some major decisions, I resolve to conquer my fear of Figures and devote time and energy to educate myself so that I no longer feel overwhelmed by the numbers, but so far, like all resolutions mine too has come to a naught.

But I’m an eternal optimist and I know the day will come when I’ll finally have crossed the hill(or the mountain as it seems now). After all I do believe in the song

“we shall overcome— SOMEDAY”

Meanwhile… my account work this year is almost done with… Phew..until next year!!